My desire to protect the environment was sparked as an elementary school student in the 1960s. During a Social Studies class I recall seeing a movie that went into great detail explaining the threats to our air, land, and water from pollution. I can recall the visions of billowing smoke from smokestacks at chemical factories and refineries. I recall pictures of large bulldozers with spiked wheels churning through piles and piles of solid waste. I also recall pictures of lakes and streams with chemical foam and dead fish
floating on the surface. That was over 50 years ago and I often wonder if that movie made as much of an impression on the other students as it did on me.
I’ve often felt that if every citizen of this world were to champion just one cause in their lifetime; social, political, economic, moral, legal or environmental how much better off this world would be. A lifelong commitment is not always necessary. Sometimes just focusing on one particular issue until it’s resolved can make a significant impact on the world.
In my personal experiences I, along with others, worked on the local level to inform the citizens and motivate local officials to affect positive change for the environment. I have been involved with local grassroots movements to publicize and gain citizen and political support to help protect the environment. This has involved peaceful demonstrations, talking to the media, testifying at public DEP hearings, and testifying in front of a subcommittee in Trenton.
These actions along with the help of many others, led to the closing of the local chemical plant owned by a foreign company that was creating significant damage to the local ocean waters, beachgoers, and wild life.
Although the stance of the chemical company was that the effluent that they were pumping into the ocean was so significantly diluted that it could not be harmful was proved to be a fallacy. Almost immediately after their offshore pipeline was decommissioned the positive results were astounding.
The ocean water quality was vastly improved in a very short period of time. Swimmers and surfers stopped suffering respiratory and dermatological issues. There was a sharp increase in the presence of wildlife including birds, fish, and mammals. A few years of part-time effort over 40 years ago is reflected in significant improvements that are still present till this day.
I can’t imagine what the condition of the beaches and the ocean water would be if this polluter had been allowed to continue for all of these years. And I am proud to know that I played a small part in making it all happen.